Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ex Machina

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

It's a modern day Frankenstein tale that's part cat and mouse game. A brilliant but arrogant creator (Oscar Isaac) of a female artificial intelligent being (Alicia Vikander) selects one of his programming employees (Domhnall Gleeson) to test his revolutionary experiment. This intriguing sci-fi story is slow moving but thought provoking as one tries to figure out the true motives involved. The remote location of this very cool research facility is absolutely breath taking. 

Alien gives it 3 "Turing Test" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


It's "James Bond" meets "The Heat" when a office bound CIA analyst & unsung hero (Melissa McCarthy) gets her first field assignment going undercover for an illegal arms deal. Jude Law & Jason Statham play fellow operatives in this hilarious spy spoof with Rose Byrne as the villain. It is everything you love about a good old espionage thriller but with a comedic twist to it. McCarthy generates her usual goofiness and Law & Statham play along showing their funny side. Stay seated for more wackiness at the beginning, through, & end of the credits. 

Alien gives it 3 "Amber Valentine" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Water Diviner

An Australian farmer (Russell Crowe) with a knack for finding water underground sets off for for Turkey to find his three missing sons lost at the Battle of Gallipoli. He is a stranger in a strange land not understanding the language nor the culture as he must navigate around bureaucratic red tape, domestic quarrels, and on-going national disputes. It is an emotional story about the casualties of war with a little romance on the side. Crowe does a good job on his directorial debut.

Alien gives it 3 "Arabian Nights" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Age of Adaline

In 1933, cosmic forces of the universe and a automobile accident ceases the aging process for Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively). Soon she learns she must hide her secret when too many questions are being asked. The predictable but enjoyable plot poses the question: Is living your life under the radar not allowing yourself to get close to anyone really living? Lively seems perfect to carry off the many different looks through the decades. Alien just wishes there were additional storylines detailing more her past exploits. Also, no real romantic spark seems to be generated between the two leads. Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, and Kathy Baker are supporting cast name draws.

Alien gives it 3 "a stitch in time" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monkey Kingdom

The cameras of Disney Nature take us to an ancient lost city in the Sri Lankan forest which is now ruled by a troop of macaque monkeys. This is a fascinating story about the macaque social structure and the struggle for survival. We follow the adventures of Maya, born to the lower class, but uses her survival skills to lead the troop through the urban jungle. Disney always shines at humanizing these creature features, but narrator Tina Fey must have improvised her unique comedic sense of humor into this wonderful story & script. This is a very cute, funny, entertaining, and educational family film. Clips at the end show some of what filmmakers had to endure in order to obtain their remarkable footage.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "more fun than a barrel of monkeys" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


It's "Paranormal Activities" meets "Bully" meets "Saw" meets "Pretty Little Liars" when cyber friends get threatened online on the anniversary of their friend's suicide. Alien's expectations were low going in but this is possibly the worst film I have ever screened. The whole film (if you can even call it that) looks like it plays on a computer screen rather than the big screen. It's more text windows than human faces. This low budget production apparently didn't spend any money on writing because there is no plausible explanation to whether this was a supernatural being or a cyber hacker behind this revenge scheme with unexplainable deaths. The experience was excruciatingly boring and a waste of time. Fortunately, it is only 80 minutes long. It's about the consequences of stupid teenagers getting drunk, making bad choices, and lying to each other. Of course, these teens are all home alone watching each other online as they are being picked off one at a time.

Alien gives it 0 "peer pressure" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Woman in Gold

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

This true story about art restitution and the painting "Woman in Gold", the Mona Lisa of Austria, becomes personal when Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) hires Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to help her reclaim some of the family's possessions stolen by the Nazis and questionably held in an Austrian state gallery. Mirren gives another stunning performance. She plays a feisty Jewish survivor scarred by the German occupation. Reynolds is her perfect partner as the young lawyer with a common ancestry and a never-say-quit determination. If you like underdog stories, you might want to check out this wonderful film. The movie is told in part through flashbacks with the where-are-they-now summaries at the end.

Alien gives it 3 "seeking peace & justice" stars out of 4.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Longest Ride

When a Professional Bull Rider trying to make a comeback has a chance meeting with a Wake Forest Sigma Theta Nu sorority sister/art major, the "Nicholas Sparks" begin to fly. These soon-to-be star-crossed lovers, Luke & Sophia, rescue 91-year-old Ira (Alan Alda) from a car accident and then all of their lives become intertwined. Two separate storylines are told in parallel detailing the challenges of enduring love in this tear jerker. It's classic Nicholas Sparks incurable romantic chick flick material, right down to the anticipated romance/water scenes. A successful PBR ride only requires the person to stay on for 8 seconds so come see what the longest ride is. 

Alien gives it 3 ½ "the toughest sport on dirt" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Furious 7

Revenge drives the plot of this seventh film of the popular Fast & Furious series as the older brother (Jason Statham) of film six's villain gets after the Toretto crew. Somehow, each sequel manages up the action ante.  It's hot bikini babes, hotter muscle cars, street racing, and outrageous action stunts as Dom's mi familia must rescue a hacker, recover the chip, and find the ghost. By now, the gang is very comfortable in their familiar roles. The stage is set for some match ups audiences want to see; Dwayne Johnson vs Statham, Vin Diesel vs Statham, Paul Walker vs Tony Jaa, and Michelle Rodriguez vs Ronda Rousey. The film doesn't disappoint. Audiences will get what they expect and then some. The F&F timeline has now caught up with the Tokyo Drift's jump into the future. There is a bittersweet undertone knowing this is the last Fast & Furious franchise film featuring the beloved Brian O'Conner character. A fitting tribute honoring the late Paul Walker plays near the film's end. Buckle up for one more over-the-top, white knuckling, adrenalin junkie thrill ride.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "vehicular warfare" stars out of 4.

Monday, March 30, 2015

It Follows

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Is it a decent low budget horror film or a public service announcement advocating against casual teenage sex? This variation on the teenage horror genre pits victims of a supernatural curse against deadly thing which can appear in many different forms (many of which happen to be fully or partially naked for no apparent reason). Jay is the main victim here and she has her "Scooby" friends to help protect her even though they can never see this slow moving stalker walker. Shot around some seedier parts of the Detroit vicinity, this adds to the uneasy atmosphere and it's cheaper than building new sets. Alien can overlook some of their plot holes but not the disappointing conclusion.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "STD: Sexually Transmitted Demon" stars out of 4.

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